Needleturn Appliqué Tutorial

(from Kristin Hamilton’s 6:30 class at Nov Guild meeting)

The first rule of needle-turn appliqué is that there really are no rules for needle-turn appliqué. There are many different methods, so keep trying until you find one you love!



  • Scissors:  good, sharp, small embroidery scissors
  • Hand sewing needles:  I prefer size 11 straw needles
  • Thread to match appliqué: 50-weight cotton or silk
  • Fabric:  100% cotton
  • Bias tape maker or bias bars for vines

Optional; depending on technique you choose

  • Freezer paper Thimble, if you use one
  • Sandpaper board
  • Clear vinyl, for placement overlay
  • Apliqué glue

Various Methods:

I’ve taken several appliqué classes and I use a variety of the techniques I’ve learned.  Here are a few.

  • Freezer paper on top – glue or baste to background (demo)
  • Freezer paper or plastic templates on the back – press around
  • Tracing onto fabric – uses sandpaper board and sequin pins
  • Back-basting (demo) – trace design onto wrong side of background.  Lay appliqué fabric over top, flip, and baste around line on back – ON the line.  Trim away on the front leaving seam allowance.  Chalk-mark at basting stitches if necessary, and then remove a few at a time as you appliqué.

Tips to remember:

  • A ¼” seam allowance is too big.  3/16” is ideal.
  • Start on a “boring” stretch – not a curve, corner or point
  • Snip inside curves but leave outside curves alone
  • On points, fold in one side, trim overlap, extend the point with thread, and fold in the other side
  • On inside “V”s – clip to ALMOST the line, use the needle to “swoop” the fabric in on either side, and take an extra stitch or two inside the V to secure

Other Resources

Googling a number of these terms, including “needle-turn appliqué” or “back-basting” is helpful.  Alex Anderson does a series of video tutorials on her website, and there are probably others on YouTube.  Some of my favorite appliqué-focused blogs include http://www.allaboutapplique.net which also links to many of the appliqué designers’ sites as well.

 By Kristen Hamilton

There was much discussion during the meeting about the difficulty of threading these straw needles with fine thread.  Here are some shots of the threader some of us use with ease.. <pictures of threaders omitted>

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